05.03.17

Capito Introduces Legislation to Accelerate Broadband Access in Rural America

GO Act creates new “Gigabit Opportunity Zones” to better connect low-income, rural communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today introduced tech neutral legislation to accelerate the development of high-speed internet in low-income and rural communities. The Gigabit Opportunity Act or GO Act expands broadband in these communities by targeting investments to areas with the greatest need, eliminating barriers to investment and streamlining patchwork regulations.

“The economic benefits of broadband are clear, especially in West Virginia. Investments in broadband in our communities, coupled with smart public-private partnerships, can jumpstart economic development and create jobs,” Senator Capito said. “The GO Act gives states flexibility, streamlines existing regulations and eliminates barriers to investment so we can better connect our low-income and rural communities.”

According to the FCC, more than 30 million Americans lack access to high-speed broadband internet, including a disproportionate number of West Virginia communities. In rural and tribal areas, approximately 40 percent of the population does not have access to broadband, making it difficult for these communities to compete in today’s internet-based economy.

The Gigabit Opportunity Act expands broadband deployment by:

  • Targeting investments to areas poised for growth: The GO Act directs investments to low-income and rural communities with the greatest potential for economic development by providing tax deferral and immediate expensing for companies investing in gigabit-capable broadband expansion.
  • Streamlining patchwork regulations: The GO Act directs the FCC to release a framework that encourages states, counties and cities to voluntarily adopt streamlined broadband laws and be designated as a “Gigabit Opportunity Zone.”
  • Eliminating barriers to investment: The GO Act temporarily defers capital gains for broadband investments and upgrades, and allows companies to immediately expense the cost of gigabit-capable equipment in “Gigabit Opportunity Zones.” The GO Act also allows states to issue tax-exempt bonds without a low-income geographic requirement. 

The GO Act builds on Senator Capito’s Capito Connect initiative and her work with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Last summer, Senator Capito hosted Chairman Pai at Adventures on the Gorge to draw attention to West Virginia’s broadband challenges. During that visit, Senator Capito hosted a roundtable to discuss the need for competition to deliver affordable service in both rural and urban markets, how to best streamline regulations for wireless providers, the importance of public-private partnerships to improve technology, and how to ensure that there is accountability for how taxpayer dollars that go toward broadband are used.

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